Top 5 Training Mistakes Made by Baseball Players

For those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile know that my philosophy on strength and conditioning training is fairly simple. Sprint, lift heavy weights, jump, throw and recover. My old school, hardcore and no b.s approach isn’t like most baseball strength coaches. I am not afraid to go against the grain and do what most coaches are afraid to do.

Below is a list of the of the 5 biggest mistakes made by baseball players or baseball strength coaches.

1. Focusing on the rotator cuff

Most baseball players and coaches believe that most shoulder problems are caused from weaknesses in the rotator cuff. What they don’t realize is that dysfunction in the rotator cuff is the result of poor mobility in the thoracic spine and poor mobility and stability in the scapula. Check out this post on the Importance of Thoracic Spine Mobility

While it is important to train your rotator cuff, simply doing this will not improve your shoulder health unless you address the actual issue in the thoracic spine and scapula. Rotator cuff exercises should never be the meat and potatoes of your training program. They should be done at the end of the warm up or at the end of the training session when there is already blood in the muscles. Check out this video below of a simple circuit I have my baseball players do.

2. Trying to “confuse the muscles”

I always get a good laugh when I hear strength coaches and trainers tell their athletes that they need to confuse the muscle in order to make it grow and get stronger. How will athletes ever get good at certain lifts if they never practice them? Strength is a skill that is acquired through repetition. The core lifts for my baseball players rarely change. In a year we will use a handful of lifts that they must learn to master. In order to continually build these lifts we will rotate the assistance lifts every 2-3 weeks depending on their work capacity. Less advanced athletes can do the same workout for 3 weeks (even more sometimes) before they need variation. Within this 3 week wave they should strive to do more weight or reps with each exercise. More advanced athletes need more variety to continually get stronger, 2 weeks usually does the trick.

3. Focusing on the core

Like the rotator cuff, the word “core training” is way overused in baseball training. Yes it is important, but that doesn’t mean it should be the focus of your training program.  Standing a wobble board or using anything like a BOSU ball is not core training. Its f***ing dumb. Real core training for baseball players should consist of strengthening the stability of the abs. It should be done at the end of the training session for 3 sets. Check out this article on Core Training for Baseball.

4. Putting too much emphasis on conditioning

Most of you probably know by now I am not an advocate of long distance running for baseball players, especially pitchers. In fact, you should know that I despise long distance running. Check out this post to see why long distance running SUCKS! Baseball is a game of short, explosive bursts. The conditioning level needed to play baseball is minimal. The only way to truly condition your body for baseball is through actually playing the sport. If you are spending more than 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout for conditioning, that is too much. I believe all athletes should have certain levels of conditioning. Being able to run the prowler for a couple rounds at the end of training sessions is more than enough conditioning for baseball players. Check out this post on How to Condition for Baseball.

5. Not  focusing on Rate of Force Development

Improving rate of force development is critical to improving speed, power and explosiveness. Baseball is a game of these type of short and explosive movements. In order to improve rate of force development you should sprint, jump, throw medicine balls and perform there explosive movements. One important note is that an athlete needs a solid foundation of relative body strength before they can train to increase their rate of force development.

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Leave A Reply (7 comments so far)

  • Evan Gallagher

    In #2, so you keep the main lifts for approx. how long before changing them? Also, with the assistance work, a typical cycle would look like Week 1 and 2 have same assistance lifts and in week 3, change the assistance lifts while keeping the main lift the same as weeks 1-2. Then in week 4, deload. Now in week 5 do you pick up where you left off in week 3 with the assistance lifts or start the all over again?

  • Hey Evan,

    I got your email asking a similar question. I will write a blog post on this in the near future. I have been crazy busy and that is why it is taking so long but I promise I will get around to it.

    In a nutshell, it depends on the athletes. The assistance work will always change every 3rd week or so. The max effort lift usually stays in the same, ala 5/3/1. I have found this to be very effective. I will be sure to write about this more in depth in a future post!

    All the best,

    Joe Meglio

  • Mark McClain

    I disagree with your philosophy on conditioning. As a pitcher, they should condition much more than position players. As a pitcher goes deeper into a game, the requirement to repeat his mechanics are that much more important. Based on your philosophy, conditioning is irrelevant? Assuming you are correct, then why do all of the big leaguers run for 30 minutes to flush out the lactic acid? Why would Roger Clemens, argueably one of the greatest pitchers of all time, run for numerous amounts of miles on end? I get that you want to promote your own theory on conditioning, but when it comes to pitching, you are clearly “out of your league”.

  • Mark,

    Thank you for your comment. Thats fine that you disagree, everybody has their own opinion, unfortunately your argument is very flawed. First off, your statement that “why do all of the big leaguers run for 30 minutes t flush out the lactic acid?” Remember that these players get paid to player baseball, they do not get paid to be strength & conditioning coaches. So your argument is that because big leaguers do it means its right? Does that mean that using steroids and other PED’s is okay because numerous numbers of big leaguers have used it, including many would have been HOF? Just because the big leaguers do it does not mean its right. In fact, many are very uneducated when it comes to strength and conditioning. Show me scientific studies that prove that lactic acid builds up after pitching. Show me studies that prove that running long distance yields optimal results for pitchers? The truth is lactic acid does not build up after pitching, THIS IS A MYTH.

    What part of pitching is done in a slow and controlled manor like long distance running? Pitching a baseball is one of the most explosive things you can do in all of sports. The amount of stress that is put on the throwing shoulder is truly insane. I wrote about why long distance is not the answer far to many times.

    Maybe you should educate yourself before you accuse me of being out of my league. As a former college baseball player and a strength and conditioning coach I understand the demands of baseball. If you want to increase your stamina, instead of WASTING ENERGY doing long distance running spend that time building up your pitch count. Thats the only true way to improve your conditioning. Conditioning is specific to the demands of a sport. Baseball is a explosive sport with very short burst. Conditioning should be the same way.

    I understand that you are very uneducated on the subject therefore I will stop my rant here. Hopefully you aren’t to closed minded and will consider the science and application behind pitching demands. By understanding how the energy systems work you will see why long distance running is complete bullshit.

  • Robert McMayor

    Hey Joe, great read. I had a question for you. I always thought long distance running was essential to playing ball. I will be trying out for my high school team coming up soon and have been playing since t-ball. This will be my first season playing high school ball, last year on the first day I tore my hammy. Freshmen year was personal reasons. So this year, is all about redeeming myself. I’ve been playing in leagues so I haven’t completely stopped playing. Been hitting the cages here and there, and go out and swing the bat about 100 times a night. I have been trying to condition right before the holidays and lots of personal time got in the way so I am looking for an effective way to be at least %50 ready for the season. I have been running each night the last week about 1-2 miles attempting to condition myself. Drinking lots of water and doing basic weight lifting, focusing on the forearms and legs. I read online doing 40-yard sprints 15x will help so I have incorporated that into my workouts after each run along with basic agility exercises. Our varsity coach believes in long-distance running so that is something I will get use too but just wanted to make sure I don’t look like an idiot come day one not ready. So to sum it up, what do you think I can do to get a good workout but to also be ready for the short spurts of baseball. Thank you.

  • George

    Joe when I click the article Core Training for Baseball it says that it is not in existance anymore why is that?

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